Last updated: 17 Feb 2021



Finland is the gem of the Nordic countries, a natural wonderland with more trees than people and more islands than any other nation in the world.

During the icy Finnish winters, cross-country skiing is often the only way to get around. There are marked tracks all over the country, including in many national parks. Fans of downhill skiing and snowboarding should head to the hills of Lapland.

Take a trip across the snow on a traditional Arctic dog sled. There are numerous dog-sled centres in Lapland, including Harriniva.

In summer, the sun never truly sets and Finns take full advantage of the 24-hour daylight to party through the night. Midsummer is also the time when thousands of locals retreat to their mökkit (summer cottages) in the countryside to enjoy the great Finnish outdoors. There are numerous classic trekking routes.
Capital:  Helsinki (HEL)
Currency:  Euro (EUR). 1 and 2 cent coins are not used in Finland. 
Language:  Finnish and Swedish. In Lapland, Sami is spoken. English is spoken and understood. 
Dialling code from SA:  + 358
Time Zones: UTC / GMT +2 (same time as South Africa)
Daylight Savings Time: From last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October: ITC / GMT +3 (1 hour ahead of South Africa)
Public Holidays 2021: 

Jan 1, 6; Apr 2, 5; May 1, 13; Jun 25, 26; Nov 6; Dec 6, 24-26

Side of the Road: Right. During winter, snow tyres must be fitted
Best Time to Go: May – June. December is a popular time for winter activities, but rates are expensive. September and October have off-season rates. 
Best for: Arctic Circle, the real Santa Claus, Sauna’s, Skiing, Northern Lights, Midnight Sun
Plugs: 230 volts AC, 50Hz. European two-pin plugs are standard.
Drinking Water: Mains water in hotels and towns is safe to drink. 
Health: There are adequate and well-equipped medical facilities, however visitors are required to pay for these services. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended.
Customs: Normal social courtesies. Finns are liberal, but may be reserved with strangers. The younger generations may dress in “gothic” clothing. People are held to what they say, so do not make offers that you do not mean. Saunas are an important part of Finnish culture. Remove shoes when entering someone’s home.
Local Offences / Laws: Drug offences and drunk driving carry harsh prison sentences.
Duty Free: Finland is within the European Union. If you are travelling from the UK, you are entitled to buy fragrance, skincare, cosmetics, Champagne, wine, selected spirits, fashion accessories, gifts and souvenirs - all at tax-free equivalent prices.

If you are travelling from within the EU, there is no limit on the amount or value of goods you may import, providing your goods are for personal consumption.

If you are arriving from a non-EU country, the following goods may be imported into Finland without incurring customs duty:
• 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco.
• 4L of wine and 16L of beer and 1L of spirits over 22% volume or 2L of alcoholic beverages less than 22% volume.
• Other goods up to the value of €430 for air and sea travellers and €300 for other travellers.
Alcohol limits apply to travellers aged 20 and over for spirits and aged 18 and over for other alcoholic drinks. Tobacco allowances apply to travellers aged 18 and over. Passengers importing tobacco products from inside or outside the EU must ensure each unit has a health warning printed on it in Finnish and in Swedish as well as the tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide quantities; passengers may only import 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars and 250g of tobacco not labelled in this way.
Prohibited Imports: Electric-shock batons, radar detectors, knuckle dusters, stiletto blades, endangered plant species (unless licensed in certain cases), pirated goods and certain plants from Russia (eg apple and pear trees). Restricted imports include narcotics, firearms and ammunition, pets, pot plants and nursery plants, and endangered animal species.
Prohibited Exports: Endangered plant species. 

Travel Alerts

COVID-19 Travel Advisory: Finland allows travellers from a select list of countries. Some countries may require a negative PCR Test. The list of countries is updated regularly. 

More Information:


This Information is intended as a Guideline.

Issuing Authorities

The Embassy of Finland, Pretoria
628 Leyds Street, Muckleneuk, PRETORIA 0002.
P O Box 443 Pretoria 0001
Tel: +27 (0)12 343 0275/6
Fax: +27 (0)12 343 3095
E-mail: (Only for visa queries) or 

Mon - Thurs from 08h00 to 16h15.
Fridays from 08h00 to 13h45

Consular services by appointment only. 

VFS Global - Application Centre
Tel: +27 (0)12 425 3010
Mon-Fri  08:00 to 12:30 and 13:30 to 16:00

PRETORIA: 1st Floor, Cherry Lane Office Park, 114 Fehrsen Street, Nieuw Muckleneuk Brooklyn, Pretoria
CAPE TOWN: Office 504, 5th Floor, 47 Strand Street, Cape Town 8001
DURBAN: Unit 409, 4th Floor 91 -123 Cowey Road (Problem Mkhize Road) Essenwood Durban 4000

Visa Requirements

  • Visas are required by South African passport holders.

NOTE: All applicants must appear in person at a visa application centre in order to submit their application and biometrics. 



Please submit the documents in the following order. Originals must be brought to the Visa Application Centre, however only photocopies need to be submitted. The embassy does not return documents (apart from passports) to the applicants. 

1) Completed Visa Application Form
2) Recent Passport Photo
3) Passport or other travel document. The travel document must be valid for at least three months after the completion of the journey. The travel document must contain two blank pages. A copy of the personal details page of the passport.
4) Detailed travel itinerary to and from the Schengen Member State territory. If visiting several countries within one trip, a travel schedule including all the countries to be visited —i.e.,travelling by air, road, rail or sea – must clearly indicate the duration of stay in each Schengen Member State (the departure date, means of travel and destination). Please note that it is not recommended to purchase the tickets before receiving a visa decision
5) Letter of employment - The letter must state the employee's name, their position, their length of service and nature of service (permanent/contractual work). The letter must indicate that the employer is aware that the employee will be taking leave on the said dates and that the employee will resume his/her duties upon return. The letter must be written on a company letterhead and must have date of issue, address, telephone number and position of signatory. 
For Unemployed - Letter explaining the duration of unemployment and sources of income or any assets the applicant may have. If applicant receives social grants, a copy of the SASSA membership card.
Self-employed should present the following documents: 1) Registration document with CIPC, Health Professions Council of South Africa or other applicable authority. 2) Registration with the South African Revenue Service (SARS). 3) On top of three months' personal bank statements, three months' bank statements from a business account are always required (when there is a business account).
Proof of studies letter for students. Students must present a recent, official and signed letter from the school, college or university, stating the date of issue, the name of the applicant and the type of studies or the name of the courses the student is enrolled in according to the institute’s records.
6) Proof of accommodation reservations - Reservations must be presented for the entire duration of the trip within the Schengen Member State territory
7) Proof of funds - last three months bank statements of a South African bank account. Statements should be drawn from a current account that reflect the salary the applicant is getting. NB: A private person may not be sponsored by another private person. The applicant's financial statements are required in full. If the applicant is a minor, three months' current bank statements from a sponsoring parent/legal guardian are required together with a proof of employment letter for the sponsoring parent. If the legal guardian/parent is self-employed, please see above for the required documents.
8) Travel medical insurance must be valid for the duration of travel. The minimum amount of the insurance coverage is 30,000 (thirty thousand) Euros and it must be valid in the whole territory of the Schengen Member States or worldwide
9) A motivational letter explaining why the applicant has chosen Finland (and other countries within the Schengen Member State territory, if applicable) as the destination. The letter should explain what made the applicant become interested in the country/ies of destination(s), and what the applicant is hoping to see or do there
10) If the applicant is under 18: certified parental consent and an unabridged birth certificate are needed. If the child is travelling with only one parent, the other parent must produce a sworn affidavit signed in front of the South African Police Service or a Commissioner of Oaths. If only one parent has guardianship of the minor, the court documents stating so must be presented. A death certificate should accompany an application if one of the parents is deceased.

Visa Processing Time

Up to 15 days, but this may be extended to 30 or 60 days

Visa Cost

Visa: €80 (adults) and €40 (children 6-12 years)
VFS service fee: EUR 29


If the applicant submits their visa application at the Finland Visa Application Centre:

A) Card payment at the Finland Visa Application Centre on the day of appointment
B) Advance payment to the given Finland Visa Application Centre bank account

Name of beneficiary: VFS Visa Processing (SA) Pty Ltd
Bank: Nedbank
Account Number: 1138055859
Branch Code: 198765
Reference: Passport Number of the applicant to be used



  • The applicable visa fees in ZAR depend on the current exchange rate, which can be changed without any notifications
  • The fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.
  • Original proof of payment must be received with the visa application.

SA Representative

South African Embassy
Pohjoinen Makasiinikatu 4, 00130, HELSINKI
Tel: 00358 9 6860 3100

Travel Health

Compulsory:  None
Recommended Travel Vaccines:  Hepatitis B, Tetanus, Polio